US lobbyist meets business community

By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune

KARACHI: The role of a professional lobbyist based in the US capital may be obscure to most Pakistanis, but the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) is not one of them for sure.

That is why the guest to the KCCI on Thursday evening was an American lobbyist associated with Locke Lord LLP, which works to promote Pakistan’s interests in the United States by – besides other means – persuading legislators to vote for legislation that favour’s the long-term US ally in South Asia.

“No one ever comes to us to say they’ve got money and they want to invest it in Pakistan. Instead, we go to them and tell them about investment opportunities in Pakistan,” said Shannon M Grewer, who holds a law degree from Fordham University School of Law, New York, and serves as counsel at Locke Lord LLP’s Washington DC office.

“US companies don’t know who to talk to if they want to come here. They generally talk to the embassy, but some matters are obviously beyond its reach,” she said, adding the KCCI could play a vital role in putting US investors in touch with Pakistani businessmen.

Speaking on the occasion, KCCI President Mian Abrar Ahmad said it was cumbersome to deal with the embassy in trade-related matters, as diplomats did not generally have the time, contacts and required data.

He requested Grewer to put US businessmen interested in making investments in Pakistan in touch with the KCCI directly. “We’ll help identify potential partners for joint ventures, as we have a vast network of members.”

Ahmad said the KCCI wanted an early finalisation of the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the United States and Pakistan despite some controversial provisions in its first draft.

“Some people in Pakistan don’t approve of the proposed BIT, as they think some of its contents hurt the interests of Pakistani businesses,” he said, adding that he had urged the minister concerned to sign the proposed treaty in its present form nonetheless.

Grewer stated that there was a huge opportunity for US companies to have franchises and distribution networks in Pakistan, adding that some Pakistanis might hate America, but they surely love using American products.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6, 2012.


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